Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – September 22, 2017

Officially, there is no H20i event next weekend. What will be interesting to see is whether that fact is noticeable at all.

If social media commenters are to be believed — dangerous business I know — it will not be apparent. The people who were planning to come months ago say they are still coming. That’s because most of them likely had no intentions of going to Fort Whaley campground for the actual car show aspect of the weekend in the first place. The same can be maintained for the Cruisin’ weekend troublemakers. They circle the date of the special event on their calendars but that’s typically their only involvement with the planned activities once they are in the area. They come here to party with folks of a similar ilk and compare and contrast their labors of love, their vehicles. Oftentimes that occurs to the detriment of properties as well as other people.

For both the Cruisin’ and H2Oi events, the argument has been for many years that the actual registered attendees are not the problem. It’s the folks who are not affiliated with the sanctioned activities who bring the trouble to town. My guess is next weekend will prove that ideal to be true as I’m assuming by Saturday of next weekend there will be no indication the official event was canceled in the first place.

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Although the timing of the discussion was a bit ironic, considering it came days after bike week and weeks before the H2Oi and Cruisin’ weekend, it was a responsible discourse at City Hall this week over special events and their impact on police resources.

Prior to the approval of the Island to Island Half Marathon, held each April, and the Seaside 10, held in October annually, Ocean City Councilman Dennis Dare raised some questions about these events’ impact on Ocean City police officers.

“I’m certainly not against any of these events,” Dare said. “The reason I’m bringing this up is in the last year or two, we’ve had a number of police officers leave. One of the things we hear time and time again is they don’t get enough time off. … When we approve something like this, there aren’t enough officers on shift to do them. Special orders go out canceling leaves and things like that because of these special events. The ones that are already lined up to go we need to do because it’s the right thing to do, but we need to think about some of these things in the future.”

Dare’s general approach is a rational one, but clearly one that’s better suited to be applied to other events, rather than these exercise activities that take place early in the morning and benefit the town in several ways. The council was right to look past these concerns in this case, but it would be appropriate to consider this sort of thinking when looking at other event renewals in the future and in particular new events proposed.

In the spring during budget discussions, the issue of special events significantly impacting police came to light because more officers than usual resigned from the department over the last year over morale issues. While that’s a concern that needs continual tracking, I’m certain morale is not low because of a specific detail involving stopping traffic so runners and walkers can cross the highway safely for a couple hours a few times a year.

It’s more likely the handful of stressful vehicle events that can be blamed for that. What can be done about that is the question and something to consider when the Mayor and Council brainstorm during strategic planning sessions later this year.

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For what it’s worth, and it might not be much, a recent poll of Marylanders on the proposed wind farms off the coast of Ocean City revealed a significant majority were largely indifferent to the prospect of wind turbines spinning within view of the resort.

Goucher College’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center recently polled Marylanders on a wide variety of issues facing the state including immigration, growing natural disasters, climate change, race relations, the tearing down of Confederate statues and memorials and the proposed wind farms off the coast of Ocean City. The Goucher pollsters surveyed 671 Maryland residents around the state on the wide variety of issues from Sept. 14-17.

In terms of the proposed wind farms off the coast of Ocean City, those polled were largely indifferent. Resort officials have been staunchly opposed to having potentially hundreds of offshore wind turbines less than 25 miles or so off the coast for fear of impacts on the views and tourism. For the record, 11 percent of those surveyed said seeing turbines on the horizon would make them “less likely” to vacation in Ocean City, while 12 percent responded it would make them “more likely” to vacation here. Over three quarters of the Marylanders surveyed said seeing wind turbines on the horizon would “make no difference” to them.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.